Michael William Bennett passed away peacefully at home in Whitefish on August 5, 2021 with his wife, Merry Lynn Southers, by his side. Michael was born in Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey, England on June 22, 1938 to William Henry Bennett and Nora Frederica Bennett. As a 5-yearold, he experienced the bombings of London and was soon sent to live with his Welsh cousins until the end of the war. In fact, his early years of public school were in Wales. As a late teen, he hitchhiked through war-torn Europe staying in Youth Hostels. Michael continued to travel throughout his entire life.
He was the first in his family to graduate from college, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in mathematics and physics from the University of Southampton in 1959 and a Master of Science Degree in geophysics from the University of London’s Imperial College of Science & Technology in 1962. His early assignments as a geophysicist took him to Greenland and North Africa. Then in 1966, he accepted an offer to join Chevron Oil & Gas in Houston, Texas. He adapted very quickly to his new life and in 1973 Michael became a naturalized U.S. citizen. He resided in Houston and, for a short time, in New Orleans, Louisiana until he and Merry Lynn retired to Montana in 2006. While at Chevron, he had many more opportunities to travel – to the Middle East, Indonesia, Singapore and Australia.
Michael and Merry Lynn meet in Houston – both working in the geophysical community. And both were very interested in seeing more of the world. Michael first introduced Merry Lynn to the UK – England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales – and then to France and Spain…with many more countries to follow during their long life together.
Besides traveling, Michael’s other interest included skiing, sailing, hiking and golf. As a young man, he first skied in several areas in Europe. In Houston, he joined the Space City Ski Club and skied much of the U.S. Then in 1989, he and Merry Lynn discovered Whitefish. That did it! They fell in love with this awesome place and wonderful community. While in Houston, Michael owned a sailboat and sailed Galveston Bay almost every weekend. He and his two brothers were all avid sailors and together they sailed the English Channel and beyond many times. When he and Merry Lynn retired to Whitefish, Michael sold his boat and took up golf for the first time at the age 70. He took some lessons and joined the Geezers. Golf become a big part of his life for many years while making so many new friends. Between 1989 and 2006, he and Merry Lynn traveled to Montana every year – to ski Big Mountain in the winter and to hike in Glacier National Park in the summer.
Family meant everything to Michael! He was the middle son of three boys, who were very close. His father had been a “boy soldier” in India long before Michael was born and he so enjoyed listening to his father’s stories of India. His father taught all three of his sons to be “scrappy” and to stick up for themselves. His mother taught him to be self-reliant and encouraged him to get an education. He was probably his mother’s favorite. He truly admired and respected her for her strength, her accomplishments and her independence at a time when those traits were not common in women. Thus, he always had a deep respect for women and was comfortable conversing with any woman he met. And of course, his charming British accent and sense of humor never failed him! Michael was also extremely close to his two nephews – watching them grow up, seeing them develop successful careers and becoming loving fathers. He was so proud of them both. Over the years Michael also stayed in touch with special old friends and work buddies…who were like brothers to him.
Michael was proceeded in death by both of his parents and both of his brothers: Peter Charles Bennett and Geoffrey David Bennett.
He is survived his by wife/best friend along with his family in the UK: nephews Paul David Bennett and Guy William Bennett, great-nephews Matthew Nicholas Bennett and Luke William Bennett, great-niece Violet Matilda Elizabeth Bennett-Stevens.
Michael was always the considerate and thoughtful gentleman who was loved by so many. And even though he was born and raised in England, he felt truly at home and at peace in Montana. He will be missed!
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in Michael’s memory to either of these two charities: Whitefish Community Foundation, Inc. or Doctors Without Borders USA, Inc.
No services are planned at this time. However, the family hopes to have Celebrations of Life in both the UK and Whitefish at a later date.
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